Saturday, February 19, 2005

my experience with medical malpractice

I was in the courts for 14 years with a medical malpractice case against a "big shot" doctor. His colleagues refused to testify, either saying "I know him and can't" or "I won't against him because you can't win."
This man did a defensive test showing he would paralyze my face which he said "I promise you your face cannot be paralyzed."
There was evidence of "ghost surgery" because his son was across town having an emergency appendectomy at the same time I was in the O.R.
He testified in 2 separate depositions that facial paraloysis was a "major and common complication" but, when he got on the stand he said "Unknown complication."
The case was non-suited. I asked a juror after whom she believed. Despite the doctor's contrary testimony she replied "The doctor."
Medical societies and states do not sanction the doctors. The Superior Court of Pa. called this man's testimony perjurious but no officer of the Court referred him for prosecution.
By the time I talked to a state's AG lawyer it was shortly after the statute expired. he told me he would have prosecuted him had I come to him in time.
The Pittsburgh DA refused to take my complaint and the first AG attorney I talked with had no time for me. Was it because this man was a 'Big Shot'?
He continues to have medical malpractice cases brought against him and continues to refuse to include this :major and common complication" in his articles, texts, etc so that patients, med students, residents, etc all come away not knowing that a major disfigurement is a known risk of this operation that is named after the doctor.
The medical society needs to clean up its own house, not further victimize the victims.

4 Comments:

Blogger apainedlife said...

I told my attorney 2 months before we were to go to trial that I felt he was not acting as my advocate. He replied "Well, after 20 years of this you lose your zeal for it." (He now denies saying that.)
He had done no work after doing an appeal to get me a new trial. No depositions, no interrogatories, the expert witness they obtained they did not talk with or prepare for trial nor did he or the attorney who was supposed to do the trial itself prepare me for trial.
This second attorbney literally forced me to settle the case by calling me 7 times in a 2 1/2 hour period, each time coming down in the number offered,
Finally in the 7th call I, crying, said "I don;t care what you do, just get it done with." and the case was settled for an onscenely small amount of money, none of whihc would come out of the doctor's own pocket.
The following Monday I wrote a letter to the main lawyer and said I did not accept the settlement. he wrote back that I had to accept it. Knowing no better I belived him. It was only later, again too late, that I found out he, under the law, had to accept my refusal.
I also found out, way too late, that while he had no 'zest'; for my case he was one of the main lawyers for the class action Phen-fen diet pill case for which he shared a multimillion dollar fee.
The case was 'settled' on a Friday night. The next week Governor Ridge, of Pennsylvania, brought forth this doctor's name as his nominee for Secretary of Health for the state of Pennsylvania.
After 14 years in the Court, why was I forced to settle the week preceding his name being brought forth?
Governor Ridge was sent a letter along with a copy of the Superior Court decision which called the testimony perjurious: "(trial testimony) was different from and inconsistent with (testimony at depositiion)."
His aide waited over 3 months to reply after the confirmation was completed. He then wrote that Governor Ridge was aware of my information and that he had "complete confidence" in Dr. Jannetta (Pa. Sec't of Health, 1995 - 1996.)
My attorney, for only doing the appeal work, received a fee of $60,000. That is a good amount of money for maybe $10,000 worth of work.
There is no crisis. It is made up by not only the doctors but by attorneys who refuse to do their job and let the doctors get away with the malpractice.
There is, of course, the other side of doctors who take frivilous cases.
The statistics seem to say that 85% of all med. mal. cases are lost despite their legitimacy. We hear in the news of the outrageous settlements but we hear of them exactly for that reasonl they are enormous. You don't put on the news the commonplace and ordinary: that most settlements are unfair or just fair.
What is the answer? Medition seems to be a good idea. Juries, most of them unfamiliar with medical jargon, are not the best arbiters of the truth when the truth may be hidden behind technical phrases or pictures that imply more than the truth.
If a group of doctors could be enpaneled who agreed to abide by their oaths and look for the truth, possibly along with one or two non-medical people who would bring to the table the understanding of the patient who is usually not a medical person, maybve a more equitable result could be had.

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